Legal

Cuadrilla’s injunction drops bar on key fracking protests

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New injunction order displayed at Cuadrilla’s suspended fracking site at Preston New Road, 7 February 2020. Photo: Dawn Ansell

Important sections of the injunction against protests outside Cuadrilla’s fracking site near Blackpool have been abandoned.

New notices have been displayed at the site at Preston New Road.

The changes bring Cuadrilla’s injunction into line with a ruling by the Court of Appeal on Ineos’s injunction. They also meet demands made by campaigners at the High Court last year.

The revised injunction order, seen by DrillOrDrop, shows that the company has given up on sections which outlawed obstruction of the highway and blocking the site entrance or bellmouth.

The new version, dated 8 January 2020, has deleted the prohibition of slow walking, lock-on protests and climbing onto vehicles. Action against Cuadrilla’s supply chain of contractors has also been removed.

DrillOrDrop asked Cuadrilla for the reasons for the changes. The company has not responded. But the order said the company said sought the variation because it had:

“ceased hydraulic fracturing on the PNR land following the government moratorium on the same such that there [sic] no sufficient threat of such unlawful activities to warrant the continuation of that relief.”

pnr 200207 Dawn Ansell 3

New injunction order posted at the Cuadrilla Preston New Road suspended fracking site, 7 February 2020. Photo: Dawn Ansell

Legal challenges

These changes had been sought in a legal challenge by three anti-fracking campaigners, Katrina Lawrie, Christopher Wilson and Lee Walsh, in September last year.

They argued at the High Court in Manchester that the injunction was no longer needed because the regulator, the Oil & Gas Authority, had suspended fracking at Preston New Road.

This followed the UK’s largest fracking-induced tremor, measuring 2.9ML on August Bank Holiday Monday.

Cuadrilla opposed their case and the judge, Mark Pelling, refused to vary the injunction.

Giving his ruling, Judge Pelling said:

“[The campaigners] should have a right to express the views they wish to express and assemble together.

“But these rights do not trump the rights of others, including the claimants [Cuadrilla].”

The new Cuadrilla order, which implements the changes the campaigners sought, also brings the company’s injunction into line with revisions made to the Ineos injunction. They followed a successful appeal last year by the campaigner, Joe Boyd.

The Court of Appeal ruled in April 2019 that parts of the Ineos injunction were unlawful. It quashed sections that prohibited protests on the public highway and against the Ineos supply chain.

Cuadrilla has also removed the concept of “intention” from the injunction, in line with the ruling by the Court of Appeal in the Ineos case.

Revised names

The new Cuadrilla injunction also changed the defendants named on the injunction order.

The company has added the three campaigners who had challenged the injunction and were also found in contempt of court for breaching the injunction.

It deleted Friends of the Earth as a defendant. The organisation withdrew from a challenge to the injunction because it faced the threat of costs from Cuadrilla of about £85,000. The name of another protester who has since died has also been deleted.

Persons unknown

The new version of the injunction continues to apply to ‘person’s unknown’, as well as six named defendants.

Human rights campaigners have argued against the use of ‘persons unknown’ injunctions by onshore oil and gas companies. They said the orders could have a chilling effect on protest and freedom of speech. People could be caught by an injunction without knowing the terms applied to them, they said.

A judge at the High Court recently refused to allow the continuation of an interim ‘persons unknown’ injunction, granted to the high end fashion firm, Canada Goose.

The ruling said:

“The justification for any order against ‘persons unknown’ in this case could only be made out if the ‘protestors’ could properly be regarded as a homogenous unit, all of whom are guilty of, or complicit in, the wrongful acts about which complaint is made.

“Once this proposition is rejected – as it must be – in favour of an assessment of the alleged wrongdoing of each protestor separately, the Claimants’ claim simply disintegrates.”

Canada Goose appealed against the ruling during two days of hearings last week. The appeal court decision has been reserved.

Timing and definitions

The revised Cuadrilla order stated that the injunction, the latest in a series of interim orders granted to the company since 2014, would go to trial on 1 June 2020 or it would continue until the court approved a further order.

It also defined the Cuadrilla land as the area to the north of a blue line painted on the ground in the site entrance, up to and beyond the gates.

Other oil and gas injunctions

The scaling back of Cuadrilla injunction could have implications for injunctions granted to other oil and gas companies.

The interim injunction granted to UK Oil & Gas is going to trial to decide whether it should be made permanent. The hearing is expected late this year or early next year. Similar injunctions have also been granted to IGas and Angus Energy.

 

9 replies »

  1. I see that instead of removing the document and rewriting it properly they’ve simply scrawled on it. Tom has been dead a while now. I very much doubt supporters of this industry would ever put their lives on the line to defend it as Tom did to oppose it.

  2. Mathew, well said.

    I doubt the UK ‘supporters’ of this industry, gathered all together, would cause a delay at any bar or restaurant in the country, except outside the Cabinet Office nowadays!

  3. Why would they gather all together, Peter??

    Just because the antis need to do that to excite each other it does not make it a requirement.

    Think you would find that IF all of those not against this “industry” gathered all together, it would still be a larger crowd than that of the antis-according to the recent survey-and noticing that the crowd against was shrinking!

  4. And in more terms Martin, if you gathered all the UK users of this industry’s products, services and offerings they are quite extensive.

    But before the anti’s gather, as peter has stated they need to be able to leave the house! (Petroleum Uses for Dummies!)

    How did there morning routine transpire?
    Did they cook breakfast? Brush their teeth? Go for a run? All these materials we consume and take for granted had to produced from this nasty industry’s products: toothbrushes and running shoes all produced when petroleum is refined.

    What about your mid-morning snack? Your gala apple is only enjoyed because the agricultural industry fertilized and relied on trains, plains and automobiles to get “your fruits and vegetables from the farmers’ fields to our kitchen tables. Even worse if you were a non-selective Vegan requiring food flown from south america, as the average carbon footprint could involve soy, quinoa or any other religious derivative to be flown 16,500miles to be enjoyed.

    Have they been able to rethink their wardrobe?
    If they care to pass on the hessian sack hats, hemp jumpers and shorts, and you love your wrinkle-free shirt, you can probably thank oil delivered by pipelines. Materials used to make nylon, elastic, rayon, polyester and even “permanent press” items come from petroleum. If you wear glasses, the lenses and frames were probably made using a derivative of crude oil.

    Did you know? There are over 6,000 products that are made from petroleum.

    Your health may be affected:
    Think of your last trip to the doctor’s office or hospital. Did your doctor or nurse use latex gloves or disposable syringes? These are petroleum products. Even heart valves and artificial limbs couldn’t be produced without oil and gas.
    How would it affect our health if we didn’t have these life saving health products?

    You would have to cancel your trip to Paris:, for that anti XR parade!
    About 10 per cent of every barrel of oil is used for jet fuel to power airplanes and helicopters.
    Petroleum is needed to power airplanes, but it is also helping to make air travel more efficient.

    “Airplanes use less fuel today because they are lighter, and they’re lighter because they use polymers made from hydrocarbons,” said Andre Brunell from Montreal.

    How would your life be different if you couldn’t travel by plane?
    You wouldn’t be reading this blog post!

    That’s right – the plastics used to make electronics such as computers and phones are made with petrochemicals. Without oil and gas, you may have to resort to using a carrier pigeon.

    You would have a different understanding of the universe
    According to NASA, “a space shuttle’s large external tank is loaded with more than 500,000 gallons of super-cold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, which are mixed and burned together to form the fuel for the orbiter’s three main rocket engines.”
    This hydrogen is derived from petroleum. How would your idea of the solar system be different without knowledge discovered thanks to space exploration?

    Well Elon Musk, dig deep and I look forward to your next carbon net-zero SpaceX launch!

    • We’ll be finding out quite soon the answer to your question cat holder.
      Or maybe we’ll have to wait for justice to arrive at that decision in the courts!

  5. You’ll play be interested to know that yesterday Geza Frackman was served with prosecution papers by Cuadrilla employees and has now left the site, mission accomplished. The full saga is available for all to see on Facebook, Frack Free Fylde.
    Personally I doubt that Cuadrilla will take this all the way to Court, far too much of the Industry’s dirty washing will see the light of public scrutiny if it does!

    • Hi Eli

      The whole Bloomberg article , includes a quote from the American Wind Energy Association:

      “Wind turbine blades at the end of their operational life are landfill-safe, unlike the waste from some other energy sources, and represent a small fraction of overall U.S. municipal solid waste,” according to an emailed statement from the group. It pointed to an Electric Power Research Institute study that estimates all blade waste through 2050 would equal roughly .015% of all the municipal solid waste going to landfills in 2015 alone.”

      There are also details of one company that is set to recycle 6000 blades a year.

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